How to Deal With a Strong-Willed Child

by Maggie McCormick

If you feel as though you are constantly battling for control of your child, there's a good chance that you have a strong-willed child. On one hand, you appreciate this strong personality, because you know it signals future success. On the other hand, it's frustrating when you're trying to get out the door, and your child refuses to put on his pants. Through channeling this stubbornness, you can deal more easily with your child and prevent fights from occurring.

Step 1

Give your child choices. Strong-willed children do not like being told what to do. Instead of telling her to get dressed, for example, you should ask whether she wants to wear the pink dress or the blue pants.

Step 2

Set clear rules and consequences. Enforce them. You should have only a few major rules that your child cannot break without consequences. If he breaks a rule, you must adhere to your guidelines, as a strong-willed child will try to test you and will notice when you are not consistent.

Step 3

Ignore tantrums. A strong-willed child may be more prone to throwing temper tantrums than other types of children. However, she's also smarter than other children. If you give in, she'll quickly notice that throwing tantrums gets her what she wants--her own way.

Step 4

Give warnings before something is going to happen. When your child knows what to expect, he'll have an easier time going through the correct actions. For example, you may want to warn him the night before that you have to leave early to get to the doctor's office or give him a 15-minute warning before bedtime.

Step 5

Allow for extra time to get ready. Strong-willed children are independent and want to do things on their own--which can take extra time. The battles start when there simply isn't enough time for her to put on her own shoes and you try to do it for her. If you give the family an extra 15 minutes to get ready, you may be able to avoid a meltdown.

Step 6

Praise your child when she does well. Most children respond well to praise. If he's receiving a lot of praise for doing good deeds, he's more likely to keep doing them so that he can keep receiving your praise.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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